Maruti Suzuki became India’s largest automaker after it took the crown from Hindustan Motors. The company has registered the production of 15 millionth vehicle this year.
As we look back in the history of Indian Automotive Industry, one company is constantly there on every page of the book and that is Maruti Suzuki. It is of immense importance to the nation. It is the company that sold the first affordable car in the country. The Japanese subsidiary has a very distinct history. We will discuss the entire journey of India’s largest automaker in this article.
A company called as Maruti Udhyog Limited was incorporated in February, 1981. In 1982, an affiliation agreement was signed between Maruti Udhyog Ltd. and Suzuki of Japan. This is the most memorable Joint-Venture (JV) in the Indian history. Initially, 74% of the company was owned by the Government of India and the rest of 26% by Suzuki. In 1991, the JV became a 50:50 as Suzuki increased its stake to 50%. However, the Government sold all its shares to Indian financial institutions in 2007.
The first year saw Maruti as an importer of cars. It was allowed to import 40,000 built-up cars in India. In 1983, the first Indian Maruti, the 800 was launched. The legendary car was in production since December 1983 to 2013. The 800 was then discontinued. The hatchback was powered by a 796 cc engine and was the first affordable car in the country. The car saw two facelifts along the way, one in 1986 and the other in 1997. The car remained the best-selling till 2004.
Then came the Maruti Van based on the 800 in 1984, taking the production capacity of Gurgaon plant up to 40,000 units. The next year i.e 1985 saw the release of the 970 cc, 4WD, off-roading Gypsy which is still under production. The export began in 1987 and the first 500 cars were exported to Hungary. This resulted in an increase in the production to make it 1,00,000 units a year in 1988. The year 1989 saw the launch of first sedan in India, the Maruti 1000. It was powered by a 970 cc engine.
India’s first hot hatch, the Maruti Zen was launched in 1993 powered by a 993 cc engine. The Zen received an upgrade in 2003. Zen was the enthusiast car off that time. Highly modified versions of the Zen were seen producing 100+ BHP, which was a lot at that time. Maruti even launched a three-door sport version of the Zen in 2003. Yes! We actually got a three-door hatchback in 2003. However, the production was suspended in 2006 while it was replaced by the Zen Estilo which is still in production. A 1527 cc diesel variant called Zen D was also launched in 1998.
In 1994, the 1298 cc Maruti Esteem was launched. This car also became a modder’s favourite. Maruti also sold the one millionth vehicle and increased the capacity to 2,00,000 units the same year. The Maruti WagonR and the 1.6-liter Baleno Saloon were launched in 1998.
In 2003, the Suzuki Grand Vitara was launched. Alto overtook 800 to become the best seller in 2004. The very successful and still ruling, 1.3-liter Suzuki Swift, was launched in 2005. The Swift was then followed by the Swift Dzire after a few years. The Swift saw a number of facelifts down the line. It is the best selling in its segment currently.
From 1983 to 2015, Maruti has seen a lot of twists and turns. But, the consumer support has never decreased. There is a lot of history in there which made the company what it is right now. Hope you like it. Don’t forget to share the article. Happy Motoring! 🙂